Dawgs take two from Carolina
Georgia swept a doubleheader from ninth-ranked South Carolina Saturday, winning a 1-0 thriller and then a 5-3 comeback in front of a Foley Field crowd of 3,430.
With the pair of wins, the Bulldogs (19-10, 8-3) moved into first place in the SEC Eastern Division while the Gamecocks dropped to 20-9 overall, 6-5 in the SEC. Georgia's bullpen has not allowed an earned run in its past nine SEC games. On Saturday, they tossed four more scoreless innings bringing that total to 29.1 innings.
Game one featured a pitcher's duel between Georgia's Trevor Holder and USC's Mike Cisco. Holder matched his career-high by tossing seven scoreless innings and scattered five hits against the potent Gamecock lineup. In the eighth, Georgia turned to sophomore left-hander Justin Earls. USC threatened with two outs, putting runners at the corners but Earls got Phil Disher to pop up to him to keep it 0-0. Georgia got a leadoff double from sophomore Rich Poythress, but Cisco pitched out of trouble as he left him stranded at third to send it to the ninth.
Senior Nick Montgomery started the ninth and after a leadoff walk to Andrew Crisp, the count went to 2-2 on Kyle Enders and Georgia brought in closer Joshua Fields. After three foul tips, Enders was hit by a pitch as Crisp advanced to second. Harley Lail then put down a sacrifice bunt to move both USC runners into scoring position with one out. With the infield in, Fields struck out DeAngelo Mack. Shortstop and leadoff batter Reese Havens followed, and the Bulldogs opted to intentional walk him to load the bases against centerfielder Whit Merrifield. Fields struck him out looking on four pitches to send it to the bottom of the ninth still scoreless.
USC brought in Parker Bangs in relief of Cisco who allowed just six hits and no runs in eight innings of work. He hit Adam Fuller on a 2-1 offering. Michael Demperio moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt. Bangs got Ryan Peisel to fly out to shallow centerfield for the second out. Then on a 2-2 pitch, senior Matt Olson lined a single to right, scoring Fuller for a 1-0 walk-off victory.
Fields got the win to even his record at 1-1 while Pangs dropped to 2-1. It marked Georgia's first 1-0 win in an SEC game since the 2004 SEC Tournament when it blanked LSU.
In game two, the teams traded leadoff home runs. Reese Havens (2-for-3, 2 home runs, 2 RBI) smashed his ninth of the year while Peisel (3-for-4, 3 RBI) connected for his career-high fifth blast, an opposite field shot to right. It extended Peisel's hitting streak to 12 games. The game remained 1-1 until the top of the fourth when Smoak launched his seventh home run of the year, a two-out solo shot off Stephen Dodson for a 2-1 lead. Then, Havens hit his 10th home run with one out in the sixth for a 3-1 edge. Dodson gave the Bulldogs seven innings and allowed three runs on four hits with one walk and four strikeouts. Sophomore left-hander Alex McRee began the eighth and kept it a two-run deficit.
In the bottom of the eighth, Georgia tied the contest on a two-run single by Peisel and eventually scored four runs on four hits and one USC miscue. He moved to second on a groundout by Olson and then USC opted to intentionally walk Beckham which brought up Poythress. USC lifted starter Will Atwood in favor of Brandon Todd. Atwood gave the Gamecocks 7.2 innings and allowed five runs (two earned) on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts. Poythress smacked Todd's second offering into right field for a go-ahead run-scoring single and a 4-3 lead. Bryce Massanari followed with another run-scoring single to make it 5-3.
Sophomore right-hander Dean Weaver came on for McRee to start the ninth. Crisp greeted him with a base hit and then he walked Kyle Enders. A sacrifice bunt by Lail moved both runners in to scoring position. Then, Weaver struck out Mack for the second out. Havens was intentionally walked to load the bases. Merrifield flew out to right to end the contest.
McRee picked up the win to improve to 5-1 while Weaver notched his second career save. Atwood got the loss to fall to 3-1.
"We played very well today, and we were fortunate to get that first one, and we got the job done in the second game as well," said Georgia coach David Perno. "We got some tremendous pitching, and our hitters stayed focused throughout the day. We struggled at the plate, but they kept pushing and eventually came through in both games."
The series concludes Sunday at 2 p.m. ET. Junior left-hander Nathan Moreau (1-0, 3.10 ERA) will start for the Bulldogs while USC counters with sophomore right-hander Blake Cooper (3-2, 3.03 ERA).